Monday, 14 May 2012

16th May, Craven Arms – Shrewsbury, 33km

16th May, Craven Arms – Shrewsbury, 33km

So. I thought I should sneak in the last few blog entries as it's fast approaching one year since I finished riding.

I wake at seven and fight the urge not to roll over for another hour – my reluctance to observe my natural circadian rhythms is quite impressive! Once outside the tent I jump around to force some energy into my sluggish limbs. That is, at least, how it feels – to an on-looker its probably more Stumbling Hobo than Mr Motivator. As I savour my last Wild Poo I ask myself “when was the last time I did something for the first time?” Answerless, I abandon the idea of letting the tent dry out, jam my bags onto the trailer, hitch up, and ride.

A few kilometres down the road I begin to lag. I realise that, to my astonishment, I didn't eat breakfast. Very, very out of character. So distracted and excited by my Day of Lasts, and seeing Jess, that I forgot to have my last breakfast. I pull up, and cook up. Porridge, of course, but this time with all the trimmings.

With a bowl full of oaty stodge assaulting my my intestines I'm feeling much more human. The sun muscles it's way through the clouds and the riding is easy. I keep a gentle pace knowing that the twenty miles to my destination wont take long, however I decide to tackle it.

I arrive early and indulge in some fast food snacks while I wait for Jess. I steal some local wifi and catch up on some blogging. I see her car pull up and go outside to greet her – given the bouffant I'm sporting these days, I'm not sure she'd spot me in a line up! We embrace for an age, and then fall into excitable jabbering. Ten months is a long time to be without someone. I'm aware of a feeling – something like relief. Not relief at concluding my trip, or really even at seeing Jess once more. I take it to be a relaxed contentedness that, I gather, only surfaces in the company of those near and dear. I'll do my best to explain: Whilst travelling and, more specifically, meeting new people, I place upon myself a certain obligation to “perform”. As I see it, if someone is kind enough to offer me their company/food/bed, ignoring my hunger/fatigue/general irritability and being a “good guest” is the least I can do. There is also a chance that it's my hosts first meeting with Johnny Foreigner – if I can leave them with good vibes then the way is paved for the next ambling traveller. These performances were largely unnecessary, I was generally delighted to be on the receiving end of these random acts of kindness. But, there were odd occasions where I fell foul of what Bryan and Gizem called Hospitality Terror.

We check into a hotel, my first since Syria. I attempt to freshen up – no easy feat given my wardrobe. Afternoon becomes evening as we drift between coffee bars, shops and restaurants. I'm a little disturbed by how I feel as though I have been away.

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